Ok, last series I spent the whole time saying to myself “be fair.”
Why? Because I was pre-determined to dislike the series and knew it. I started watching with a strong sense of mourning for the lack of Tennant and that isn't.
And in it's defence... Matt Smith is a great Doctor. In fact, I think he's a brilliant Doctor. The problem is that Tennant was a stupendously marvellous Doctor. It's a tough act to follow.
Add in their was a problem of disconnection for me. Changing both the Doctor and the Companion at the same time felt less like a continuing story and more like an ending and whole new story – which I didn't like.
Which brings me to the Companions. Specifically, Amy Pond. Looking back at the past we had
Donna (my favourite companion) was fierce and powerful
Martha was epic, mighty and legendary
Rose was real, tough and grounded.
Amy is... well, what is she? Dull is what she is. Dull dull dull dull. She's more of a tourist than any of the others, less of an actor, less of a driving force and separate personality. Add in her even more dull Rory (come back Mickey, all is forgiven) and they're not compelling to me – worse, they spend an inordinately huge amount of time bickering with their own personal issues. If I wanted that I'd watch a soap, not something that's supposed to push the boundaries of the fantastic. It has an almost Arthur Dent-ish feel – what happens if you drop two middle class, middle aged, middle of the road English village folk in outlandish circumstances.
So I was trying to resist... disliking it but it made it quite hard. And then there was the story... where was the fantastic, where was the wow? Even the bloody Queen (who is AWESOME) the whole series felt considerably more lacklustre, more disjointed with reversals of past canon and just less epic, less compelling (and also more straight and white, methinks. Especially in a franchise that has been a lot more varied in the past) than the past series.
I didn't hate it – but it was a let down to me. So I came to Series 6 with a mixed sense of hope and trepidation – because I want my awesome back.
And then to the first episode THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD THERE BE! READ AT OWN RISK
Started with Rory and Pond, which is ALWAYS such a good start, then a side trip to River. I don't like River either. She's arrogant, she's dramatic without being cool with it and I've intensely disliked the moments in the past when she's tried to out-Time Lord the Time Lord or all the other niggling little annoyances like “hah I know how to drive the Tardis better than you do”. She annoys me, annoys me a lot. So learning this was a River episode as well got my grumpy face on.
And then we had the *GASP* moment. The Doctor was killed! Ok, look, your mileage may vary but I really don't like this trope (even though I've used it before, yes guilty). Killing a main character off, especially THE main character, especially THIS main character, isn't going to happen. It isn't. We know it isn't. And TV show after TV show pulls this “ZOMG WILL HE SURVIVE!” when we all know “of course he's going to survive! Get on with it.” Which means as far as tense, edge of your seat moments go, it fails. Instead we get a mildly interesting “so how's he going to resurrect” moment. Now if it were Pond or Rory or even River, then yes we could have that moment (well, except for me thinking “great, now go get Martha or Donna back”) but not with the Doctor. To make the trope even more ridiculous – it was the first episode of a new series. Cliffhanger it ain't.
This is the problem with OOC story knowledge. We KNOW that this could not end here already so... yeah it was lots of drama and tears and Amy wallowing around “nothing matters” blah blah blah that felt more like “get on with it damn it.” With an increasing creeping feeling that not only am I faced with an episode with the 3 most annoying sidekicks in the franchise, but it's an episode with these 3 and no Doctor!
Thankfully he did show up (a younger, not-dead version) so I was spared that horror (I also think the Doctor totally would invite himself to his own funeral. BUT I also think he would make sure his funeral were a gazillion times more epic than this).
On the plus side – yeah after that awful beginning it seemed to pick up. I'm especially happy to see River exasperated by the Doctor rather than the other way round (this is how it should be! Doctor CAUSES exasperation and awe because non-Time Lords Who Are Not Brilliant can't keep up with his randomness). Though her messing with the Tardis hacks me off. - but again made cool by the Doctor totally knowing she's doing it. In fact, I love how many times he scores of her this episode :) Zing after zing :) The dynamic was a thousand times better
I also quietly loved the slightly menacing tone of the Doctor when River says he has to trust her. I like this little dark windows, the little, “hey the Doctor isn't human and when you think about it, is incredibly powerful and alien” moments
The antagonists? Up there on the creepy scale. Maybe in the top 10 (Angels, Devouring Darkness in the library also get points)
So, overall? Started poorly – really poorly.
Amy remains irritating. Maybe the aliens could eat her. Nom nom boring sidekick
Rory remains relatively unnecessary but managed not to be annoying now we're past that whole “Amy, come back to me and a normal boring life in St. Mary Mead” stage. He can stay, he has a practical basic “go along with the flow” kind of thing now. I could grow to like him
River still annoys me but she can stay because the Doctor has started zinging her so perfectly that she can say too. She feels less like she's trying to BE the Doctor now. Hopefully if they keep bouncing off each other well I could grow to like her too
The Doctor? Still cool. Still not Tennant, but Matt Smith is a very good Doctor
The plot picked up, interested me and made me eager for the next instalment – good, I was worried there.
I'm also intrigued that River's “worst day” has already happened – fascinating thought really, they do do Time Travel well.